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McHenry, Sessions Will Face Off — If There’s a Whip Race

Sessions will face McHenry if there is a whip race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sessions will face McHenry if there is a whip race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There won’t be a race for majority whip if the current No. 3 House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, doesn’t beat Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia for majority leader. (The draft Trey Gowdy movement doesn’t seem to have any backing from the South Carolina Republican.)  

But at least two lawmakers so far are officially banking on the likelihood of Scalise moving up in the ranks, clearing the way for a successor. Rep. Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, the appointed chief deputy whip, and Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, the chairman of the Rules Committee, both sent letters to colleagues late Tuesday morning announcing their intentions.  

McHenry, one of the youngest members of GOP leadership — he turns 40 in October — told colleagues the Republican Conference needed “a new culture based on trust, communication, and collaboration.”  

He also pitched himself as the experienced heir apparent. In recent history, most appointed chief deputy whips have moved into the elected whip position in leadership shakeups such as the one the GOP is undergoing now with the pending resignation of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.  

An exception to that rule was Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., who lost the gig to Scalise last summer in the aftermath of former Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat.  

“I have seen firsthand what the Whip job entails,” McHenry wrote to colleagues. “Whether collaborating with you on the crisis at the border last summer, passing a balanced budget, or delivering on TPA this spring, I have worked tirelessly with you to ensure every House Republican’s voice is heard.”

Sessions, on the other hand, is selling himself as a seasoned veteran of the institution — someone who, during his tenure as chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, helped his party return to the majority.
“I know how to build a successful member-driven institution because that’s exactly what we did at the NRCC and what we have done at the Rules Committee,” Sessions told fellow House Republicans in a letter, the email version of which bears the subject line “Working Together to Sell the Fight.”
He continued, “Our next Whip needs to demonstrate bold leadership that pays attention to process and the people involved in that process. Our next Whip also needs to unite and strengthen our conference based upon the ideas of all of our members.”